Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bono is a Hypocrite? The Other Side of the Argument

Yesterday, Human Events editor, Hollywood Hypocrisy author and so-called ambush journalist Jason Mattera released a video in which he cornered Bono - or rather, someone he thought was Bono - at a Grammy-related event last month. The video, which depicted Mattera hurling "gotcha" questions at the man he thought was Bono regarding U2s supposed tax evasion, and what Mattera insinuated were bad charity practices on Bono's part, received enthusiastic online acclaim before anyone had even watched it.

It was salivated over by the likes of Sean Hannity on the radio that day, and was scheduled to air on Hannity's television show that night. (Hannity's failure to keep his enthusiasm under control was downright embarrassing, and coming from a fan of his - which I am - that's saying something). Blog commenters on conservative sites like Hot Air, The Blaze and Big Hollywood also joined in the fun, hailing the exposure of Bono's alleged hypocrisy as some kind of trophy that could be hung on the mantle of caught-in-the-act celebrities conservatives love to malign.

Today, most outlets that are bothering to update the story are saying there was one problem: That the man was a Bono impersonator. Well, that's true. He was Bono impersonator Pavel Sfera, and it is a big problem for Mattera, who sheepishly declared he had been "punked" in a retraction on Hannity's radio show today. The primary outlet for the video was Big Hollywood, a Breitbart site. So less than one month after Andrew Breitbart's death, Jason Mattera managed to compromise the integrity of a Breitbart property. That takes real talent. 

But I'm going to say there are actually two problems here. The second problem, and the problem that only a handful of people have said anything about, is that Bono doesn't really fit the definition of what mainstream conservatives call a Hollywood hypocrite. I'm not going to cite complicated stuff here or post a bunch of quotes; I'll keep it simple (because we all know how to Google) in my response to the Bono is a hypocrite argument:

  • Bono is as GOP-friendly a celebrity as they come. In his role as an advocate for third world debt relief (the root cause of his love-hate relationship with conservatives), Bono worked amicably alongside the late Jesse Helms, George W. Bush, Condi Rice and Rick Santorum. Yes, that Rick Santorum. His U2 bandmates have never been thrilled about this, as was documented in the book U2 by U2. 
  • The notion that Bono is some kind of environmental crusader is a myth. Operating a clothing line (EDUN) that relies on natural resources from the third world and gives a portion of the proceeds to the traders who take those resources to the market is hardly environmental activism; if it needs a name, it's more like humanitarian capitalism. And the ONE campaign? It asks ordinary people to write their representatives to encourage them to support African debt relief. It doesn't ask recession-ridden Americans to give their money to Africa, although many do. And I'm guessing Bono does too (for those who say he should disclose how much - why? Do we ask our Fox-approved conservative heroes to disclose how much they donate to causes, or do we take their word for it?)
  • U2 has been quite transparent about the fact that they lug steel all over the world for their world tours, including the U2360 tour of 2009-2011. Also documented in the book U2 by U2 and other interviews are numerous, pro-capitalism views held by Bono that make no apologies for this practice. And while we're on the pro-capitalism subject, Jason Mattera's main talking point in his failed 6 minute interview with a fake Bono - that U2 has moved money to Holland to avoid paying taxes on it in Ireland - shows that the band is about as pro-capitalism as it gets. And conservatives are supposed to have a problem with this? If that's the case, Mitt Romney really doesn't stand a chance.
I'm alright with unconventional journalism when it has a valid means: James O'Keefe's ACORN and Planned Parenthood investigations, for example. But the Jason Mattera fake Bono interview was just plain dumb.I'm with Poor Richard, who described Mattera's tactics as being uncomfortably close to the mindset of the Occupy crowd. And for a conservative, does it get more hypocritical than that?

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